I have been away for a while, often letting the world pass me by in the daily hustle and bustle, but this afternoon I stumbled on a blog post by a Nigerian blogger who has recently been seeking infamy through vicious critiques on celebrities’ styles on and off the red carpet which riled me just about enough to get back to my keyboard.
I have absolutely no problem with freedom of speech and the fun game of playing fashion police with celebrities’s red carpet and street style choices. If it’s good enough for Joan Rivers, it’s good enough for us all, right? While I have no qualms about bloggers taking to the internet to criticise debatable style, accessories and hair choices, when it start crossing the fine line from fashion police to personal attack, I start feeling cross on behalf of women everywhere – on and off the red carpet.
I am well aware that the blogger in question may one day (however short or long it may take) may have me as the target as they play “fashion police” and use it as an excuse to attack my physical appearance, but I cannot just ignore the state of confusion they are in with regards to what is and should not be acceptable when dishing online criticism. And at the end of the day, however short my legs may be or however podgy my tummy, it is between me and my mirror, and my creator – and possibly at the most my husband who is yet to file a complaint.
In the cyber age of “fat shaming”, “slut shaming” and all other kinds of internet shaming which often seems to target women, if anonymous trolls on cyberspace do not know any better, shouldn’t we, journalists and bloggers know better than to educate and enlighten in order to change attitudes that attack, shame and victimise women?
In the same vein, a blog post about styling choices of celebrities shouldn’t be mocking Toke’s pout (on a playful image she shared with her followers on Instagram), or openly refer to Rita Dominic’s legs as “ugly”, Linda Ikeji’s arms as “fat” (If Linda’s arms are fat, mine have got to be obese!) and question the size of Toolz tummy and if she is on the “9 month course”.
Some may argue these women are in the public eye and hence heed what they wear and grow a thick skin to face the insults should they ever put a fashionable foot (or leg, or arm, as seen in this case) wrong. While I agree, it is also important to appreciate the different between constructive criticism and personal digs. The moment one veers from the length of a skirt to their personal opinion on someone’s legs, or from the need of long sleeves to why someone’s arms may have got fat, their opinion is fast on a downward spiral from classy and constructive to vicious and vile.
The women in question are all talented and successful in their line of work and highly regarded by peers and fans alike. If they are panned so personally about their looks as opposed to their style choices, where does that leave the average woman?
I agree, our style choices should be determined by what looks good on us, but equally by what we feel comfortable. And if we feel comfortable in our own skin, whether our slit is too deep, our sleeves too short, our dress too tight should not give anyone, and especially someone who has the power of their pen (or posts), the right to ridicule our looks. In the twenty first century no woman should be reduced to body parts or measured with sexist parameters that label them as physical entities.